Melissa McCarthy is one of the great mysteries in Hollywood right now. At least she is to me. How can someone that has only been in one movie people hold up as great be so beloved? And look, count me amongst the people that think McCarthy is funny and charming. I am just not sure that what is easy to like about her off screen ever comes through on it.
McCarthy’s latest vehicle The Boss hits theaters this week. She plays Michelle Darnell, a mix of Donald Trump, Creflo Dollar and Martha Stewart – a self-made billionaire bully that evangelizes to her acolytes about the financial success they deserve and how to bulldoze whatever is in their way to get it.
After an insider trading scandal and a brief jail stint, Michelle is left with nothing and goes to her former assistant Claire, played by Kristin Bell, whose physical form may best be known as Veronica Mars, but let’s face it, she’s Princess Anna from Frozen now. Claire and her daughter take Michelle in and make her part of their family as they grow a brownie business together.
It’s not hard to figure out what happens from there. There are plenty of “awwww…” moments as Michelle learns what it is like to have a real family followed by an inevitable double cross before everyone learns their lesson and lives happily ever after. These little morality plays with poop jokes are just how things go now in a post-Judd Apatow world.
The thing about The Boss is that it actually has some really funny moments. It also features a subplot about a cat named Spaghetti, so know that I really wanted to like this movie. It’s just that those really funny moments are surrounded by absolute garbage. If you ever thought to yourself “You know what I want out of a night at the movies? Melissa McCarthy singing and dancing along to a spoof of DJ Kahlid’s ‘All I Do is Win’!” Then maybe you’ll find way more to love about The Boss than I did. For me though, that “All I Do is Win” scene should be taught in film schools. See, budding auteurs? This is why you never start a movie with a rap parody.
Even the physical comedy in the movie hits some high notes. The problem is that physical comedy has become so much a part of McCarthy’s act that The Boss might more appropriately been titled Melissa McCarthy Falls Down Part 7.
We have an insult that transitions into a much harsher insult, Michelle Darnelle rocketing a tennis ball into her lawyer’s throat at point blank range, and a discussion of how cool demons are. Those are your high points and they are really high. McCarthy and her director/co-writer/husband Ben Falcone surrounded it all though with not even average jokes. As my friend Grae Drake over at RottenTomatoes.com pointed out, The Boss feels like it was written only after the creative forces behind it found the right hairstyle for the main character.
I want to see Melissa McCarthy succeed. I think it is a good thing to have a woman that isn’t a size 0 have success in Hollywood. I just wish she would do more than play into “You know what’s really funny? Fat people getting hurt!” mentality.
Demetri Ravanos is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and has reviewed movies for Raleigh and Company, Military1.com and The Alan Kabel Radio Network. He can be heard weekday mornings from 6-10 on "The Morning Show with Mike, Lauren and Demetri" on Buzz Sports Radio.